7/13/2010

Miniature gardens


I recently read “Jane in Winter” by Elizabeth Wix who many of you may already know from “About New York” Elizabeth grew up in England in the fifties but now resides in New York. Although the book was originally written for the 8-12 age group I found it fascinating, a sort of escape into a slightly disconcerting fantasy world with fifties nostalgia. It is both cosy and scary in equal measure and I know that I would have devoured such a story when I was young. It reminded me very much of Edith Nesbit.

There are many things to love about this book but for me it was being reminded of childhood pastimes, some of which I still have not entirely grown out of; that of making gardens in miniature. When I was a girl this was “all the rage”, in fact most of my childhood pastimes involved lots of imagination and no expenditure! We used mirror pieces for lakes, stones and rocks to create paths and mountains, mosses and small plants became gardens, fir cones became forests. I dare say many of you will have done much the same thing?


Today my miniature gardens are in shallow bowls rather than trays, I still make use of pebbles, shells, and pieces of ceramic, whatever takes my fancy. One of my favourite plants for such environments is a clover -Trifolium Repens “Purpurascens Quadriphyllum” which was given to me by a gardening neighbour. It has reddish/purple leaves edged with peppermint green and white flowers. It can be invasive so living in a dish suits it fine! Interestingly Judith Glover has a similar plant featured in her garden notebook, see post below.

23 comments:

  1. I find myself drawn to just about anything miniature. Lovely foliage. I love Ms. Wix, as well!

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  2. What a super ( and very kind!) post.
    Yes, it was such fun making those gardens on old trays. Really lucky people had little Willow pattern (or other) china bridges which I found very swanky.
    Planting in small areas like old troughs is always challenging and fun.

    I have just thought of 'rockeries' which have something of an attempt at the Alps in miniature.......
    also very popular in the 1950's!

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  3. looks greatand so much fun!!
    and Thanks for the link...

    We have sindce yesterday 17 little chicks in our garden...
    look here if you like...soooo sweet!!!

    http://remysfirstyear.blogspot.com/

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  4. How wonderful that you still do this! and thank you for the memories this evoked, yes i too made miniature gardens. My girls when they wee small would take part in the village flower show. It had a section for childrens mini gardens & the village kids would spend days collecting & arranging in great excitement. Mm think i shall have to have another go!

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  5. Thanks for introducing me to Jane in Winter and About New York! I too was a child in the 50s and remember creating whole worlds out of next to nothing - I remember having a little area of garden and putting stones and shells around flowers to make little paths - the plant in your first photo is very pretty:)

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  6. Valerie, I also really loved Elizabeth's book and all the worlds it depicts.

    I don't remember making any miniature gardens back in my Virginia childhood, and think that I must have missed something. However, I do remember being able to play in nearby woods and fantasize about caves inside thickets, bridges made of huge fallen tree limbs, strange pathways leading to tiny creeks. We could have a new plot to our stories every day.

    xo

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  7. I still make little gardens and aquariums so that may say a lot about my mental age.

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  8. I must read this book, it sounds enchanting.
    The magic of miniature, yes. I love finding, in the woods here, little mounds of moss with tall-stemmed palm-fronded structures, like miniature tropical islands.

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  9. On a family vacation in the 50's we visited Ohme Gardens (http://www.ohmegardens.com/)in Washington State and from then on, my brother and I made mini Ohme Gardens. Back home in Montana we would go with Dad on early morning trout fishing expeditions and build our little gardens on the banks of a millpond or under the bridge over a river. Thanks for bringing that all back to me.

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  10. There is the most charming little girl who lives around the corner. The daughter of an artist, she loves to come to my house and visit. We often have tea underneath the magnolia tree in my front garden. (Way up inside the tree we have a dining table and chairs, with windchimes and chandeliers hung in the branches, so she adores it. ) She spends quite a lot of time creating fairy houses that are really quite remarkable. Tiny little homes, perfectly decorated with twigs and berries, all in miniature. She sends me email photographs.

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  11. Thanks for the names of the plants. I have never made a miniature garden, even though I was probably a girl when it was "all the rage." These photos are lovely. Thanks for the reminder that there's still time to do something like this.

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  12. I love those little ceramic (?) flower people living in the old fireplace thing! And, I haven't grown out of the miniature garden thing, either!

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  13. Such a wonderful passtime. We did not do this but I think I lwill be introducing this to my little girl. Thank you for the ideas.

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  14. I love your childhood little garden with mirror pieces for lakes! I didn't do that when I was young, but I made Lego houses with dollar store plastic furniture inhabited by Disney figurines.

    Imagination pays. Today it seems so many parents regiment their children's lives so strictly that the kids don't learn to be creative with their time. Either that or the kids are stuck on the video games...

    Thanks for reminding me of my fun, simple childhood games!

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  15. Oh, my friends are all followers, and now I am too. thanks for commenting on Jarvis House Blog. Cheers Lori

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  16. I do remember making the miniature gardens/landscapes! How much more fun it is/was to play with imagination than video games!

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  17. love everything...the miniature gardens are adorable...

    i want to make one with my 4 year old neice...

    and i have to read the book....

    lovely post here today
    little teddy is right on my lap and says HI !!!!

    kary and teddy
    xxx

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  18. Hadn't heard of miniature gardens--what a nice idea!

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  19. ah, your garden looks so lovely. I also enjoy books for younger people at times, even if I am simply reading them to kids. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  20. Valerie, thank you! I think you're correct, that the illustration I used on my pillow is a Kate Greenaway. Love her work. And yours!

    Diane

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  21. valerie i've always been drawn to small-scale or miniature anything. it takes on some sort of magic that makes connecting to its creation and maintenance that much easier and rewarding!!! steven

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  22. I loved Elizabeth's book too. I especially love the photo that you took of you r garden. Very colorful and green. Right now Long Island is having a bout with no rain, so everything looks la bit brown. Since I live in a swamp, most of the year, I've never put in sprinklers. This month I am hand watering plants on note. Way too much work, but I cannot let them wilt! Cheers

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  23. Yes, I remember miniature gardens being all the rage when I was a child, back in the 60s/70s! I'm sure there's a Ladybird book from the era, showing how to make one! Yours are great, and give lots of inspiration on how to create one. x

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